Could not download file: This paper is available to authorised users only.


M. Maiocchi, M. Pillan

Politecnico di Milano (ITALY)
The paper describes educational experiences in the curricular Courses for the Bachelor and Master Degrees in Design, held at the Design Faculty of the Politecnico di Milano.

In the second year of the bachelor and in the first year of the Master, a condensed workshop of 5 ECTS is mandatory for the students: it lasts only five days, and the students are full time involved, 8 hours per day, plus possible autonomous home extra work.
The organisation of the workshop follows the following steps:
i) the teachers (usually a responsible plus a couple of tutors) present an original theme to be developed;
ii) the students design specific original proposals on the theme, under a weak tutor supervision;
iii) the students presents publicly their results.

The theme is suggested together with an external company, specifically interested in it: in the past, some telecommunication company was interested in new mobile services, a white goods producer was interested in new vacuum cleaner concepts, some publishing company was interested in new on-line journalism, a healthcare institution required new organisations for the internas spaces for the patients, and so on. The company pays a fee to the university for proposing the theme. and acquires the right to "buy" from the students their ideas, at a pre-defined amount. The students participating to the workshop are requested to sign an agreement in such a sense.

The presentation by the teachers (with the participation of some people of the proposing company) is oriented to provide a loose brief, in which problems are well defined, but not the road for a possible solution; the goal is to set free the students to follow unusual paths, and then to collect new ideas , useful for future researches; often the material produced is used in further scientific papers (of course, with reference to the authors). The initial brief takes usually half a day, possibly with some short and well focused lessons held at lunch time.

The work is carried on by the students organised in groups (usually three per group), typically, the analysis and idea creation phase takes a couple of days, the deepening of the project takes one and half day, half a day is devoted to the preparation of a presentation (it should be short, effective and brilliant), and the last half a day is devoted to the public presentation of all the results.

In this win-win activity: the students learn by doing how to approach real projects, and their strong and weak points (through the discussions with the teachers, during the continuous supervision); the teachers get a lot of new ideas, and can gather a lot of material produced by the students during the analysis; the companies benefit of a real technology transfer from the academic world to the market.
The paper will present the details of the organisation, will report various real example of experienced workshops, together with the obtained results, and will critically describe the educational, the research and the technology transfer results of them.